We love you, Russ.
There are so many ways to remember you, endless facets to who you were and your impact on SEO. Where do I even begin?
You were the funniest guy in the room. You would gear up for a joke with that wry smile and sparkle in your eye, and we always knew what was coming. Your sense of humor was keen and clever and ever-present.
I remember being ill and jetlagged on the way to put on a mini-MozCon for a valued, strategic client — you made the 2.5-hour winter car ride pass by in a breeze with your entertaining and hilarious stories. You could make charming conversation about anything and with anyone. Listening and laughing with delight to your stories about growing up as an identical twin, current events, memories from past MozCons, and ideas about what we could build at Moz next, you transformed my tired and cranky mood into happy and creative energy. Your spirit and laughter was infectious.
You were brilliant. Our longtime friend, links API power user, and collaborator on the blog, it was only a matter of time before you became a full-fledged Mozzer. When we officially welcomed you to Moz in 2015, it was like coming home. From the start, you showed up eager and ready to innovate. Over the years you were relentless in your quest for better data, holding tech giants and the SEO industry accountable. You’ve left an indelible mark on Moz: our link index and keyword corpus bear witness to your passion for reliable, quality data and meaningful metrics. Keyword Explorer wouldn’t be here without you. Your work on the new Domain Authority score was transformative. And your commitment to the SEO community, to relaying complex ideas clearly and with conviction, were second to none. You were always there when we needed you.
You were bold and courageous. You stuck up for your beliefs and staunchly defended them, be they professional or political. You were a loyal and steadfast advocate, always willing to wade into the fray for your friends and colleagues, the best kind of friend to have. I learned a lot from watching you debate and explain with flair, class, and compassion in all the SEO corners of the internet. Conversations that I didn’t have the stomach for, you would enter into with a smile, guided by the flame of your convictions.
I loved your devotion to your family and how you treasured time with them above all else. You would think deeply about whether you were being the best dad, husband, brother you could be. The same curiosity and drive for greatness that you applied to work, you also applied to your personal relationships. You wanted to be good at loving your family because you believed they deserved that from you. I felt it when you brought them to MozCon and you talked about watching your daughters grow and learn. You were always asking yourself, “How could I be a better dad in this moment?” Your passion for service and making the world better was driven, in part, because you wanted a better world for your girls.
There’s so much we still wish we could say to you. There are words left unsaid, projects unfinished, ideas unrealized. But beyond all else, I just want to say thank you, Russ, for the incredible impact you’ve had: on Moz and Mozzers, on the SEO community, on everything and everyone you touched. On me.
To the SEO community, I invite you to revisit the vast legacy Russ gifted us with his blog posts, Whiteboard Fridays, and MozCon presentations, linked below. Remember him for all he gave us. We’re lucky to have these memories of a brilliant soul gone too soon.
A memorial site has been set up in his honor at rememberingrussjones.com. There you can read more about Russ and his great loves in life, share a memory, and make a donation to a fund for his family.
Our grief is deep. Our love is deeper. Today, I’ll be raising a glass (Scotch, neat) and I ask you to join me in this toast: To Russ, who pushed for excellence, who always strove to make life a little easier for others, and who always had a sparkle in his eyes and a joke at the ready. Goodbye, my friend.